TEL AVIV (Oct. 17)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres promised Monday that if the Palestinians halted their uprising, the Labor Party would call for elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in three to six months.
He also spoke of putting the Gaza Strip under an Arab civil administration in two years.
Peres appeared at a joint news conference here with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The two Labor Party leaders expounded on their plans for the next four years should Labor win the Nov. 1 Knesset elections and head the new government.
Peres said the balloting in the administered territories would be held to elect Palestinian representatives to peace talks. He said he would wait three to six months after calm is restored to give the populace of the territories time to show it can observe law and order.
Every Palestinian living in the territories would be eligible to vote, Peres said, stressing as well that only residents could stand for election.
That would eliminate Palestine Liberation Organization leaders and activists who have long been living abroad.
Peres said that while the PLO would be excluded from the talks, the past records of those elected by popular vote in the territories would not be inspected.
Any agreement reached in the peace talks would be put to a national referendum, Peres said. If the talks were successful, the Gaza Strip would be turned over to an Arab civil administration in 1990.
TALKS WITH NEW U.S. REGIME
If by 1991 the Knesset has not legislated a change in the electoral system, another referendum would be held in Israel to determine the issue.
It was not immediately clear if Peres was hinting by this that Arabs in the territories would get the vote.
The two Labor Party leaders dwelt at some length on their ideas for Israel’s future relations with the United States.
They said that in the event they headed the next Israeli government, their first step would be to coordinate with the new administration in Washington. Americans will elect a new president on Nov. 8, just one week after the Knesset elections.
Israel would seek to sign a new memorandum of understanding with the next administration to ensure the continuity of strategic and economic cooperation between the two countries, the Laborites said.
They would also renew the agreement with Washington to exclude the PLO from Middle East peace negotiations unless it recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism.
Peres told a meeting of the Foreign Press Association here Sunday that if he becomes the next prime minister he will immediately act to revive the American peace process in the Middle East.
He made it clear to the press group and at the news conference here Monday that he has not lost faith in the idea of an international conference to set the stage for direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab adversaries, including the Palestinians.
OPTIMISTIC ABOUT HUSSEIN
Nor has Peres given up on King Hussein of Jordan as a negotiating partner. He spoke Monday of a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation to be invited to the negotiating table.
He said that was based on an agreement he reached with Hussein at a meeting in London in April 1987. But the Jordanian monarch has since washed his hands of any involvement in the affairs of the West Bank Palestinians.
Peres remains optimistic that Hussein will change his mind, because he “is serious in his desire for peace” and “neither he nor we have any alternative.
“Otherwise we will destroy our economies and the future of our children,” Peres told the press group.
Peres and Rabin promised Monday that if elected, Labor would keep inflation at an annual rate of under 10 percent. It is currently running at about 18 percent.
They pledged to establish a national hospitalization authority to avoid a repetition of the health care crisis that bedeviled Israel this past year.